I do know that sometimes my demands are too high; at least, I've been told they are. At the same time, I often feel like they're not "enough"--and that leads to me trying too hard to please others, yes.
I sort of alternate. I've gotten a lot of people in my life telling me I'm selfish and should care more about others, and I know sometimes it's true, but at the same time I know there've been times I've bent over backwards for others and got nothing in return, not even acknowledgement. So I seem to go to both extremes. It's hard to find the middle ground, where I can feel comfortable asking for/receiving what I deserve (whatever that is, when one has low self-confidence they tend to believe they deserve nothing!) and saying no to others when I have to, without feeling awful because of it.
I guess I've kind of had it ground into me that if I think about myself whatsoever, then I'm selfish, and it's hard to let go of that mindset.
I can relate to this also - the extremes situation is also my experience of life.
I have found that I have given my time extremely generously in helping some people out in the past. Then the one time I said that I could not help to those same people - they turned really nasty and made me feel as though I was in the wrong - calling me selfish and other such stuff.
It took me a very long time to deconstruct what was going on in these situations but i'm pretty certain I worked out what was going on...
I found that in order to "please" these people, that I was putting in "over-time" in helping them out. The idea is simple - you give generously - they appreciate a bit more what you are giving them. You go away satisfied you did your good deed and you feel pleased about yourself. The problem with this is that - over time - you continue to give generously. You stop everything at the drop of a hat to help them out. You give even more time. Each time though, your generosity has less impact - you have to give more time to achieve the same "feedback hit" - a bit like a drug addict trying to attain that first ever high by putting more in each time.
But what is really happening here? Because you are giving so much of your time (in comparison to how little they give of THEIR time to YOU), you are effectively cheapening your own time in the eyes of the other person. After all - if you are that easy to utilise each time - then your own time cannot hold that much value can it? You are cheap in the eyes of the other person - and getting cheaper all the time.
What I found after years of all that - when I wanted them to help me out - it was almost like I had to book them weeks in advance. So they were happy to literally exploit my generosity when it suited them. But when I wanted something back in return - it was like they were so important that I wasn't worthy of their valuable precious time.
In essence, the ONLY way to play this game is that you have to learn one important fact - YOUR TIME IS JUST AS PRECIOUS AS THE NEXT PERSON'S TIME. So when you give your time out - you MUST expect something back in return - not necessarily now but you can expect it back at some future point. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. That equity of time investment both ways is essential for a decent relationship of any kind. Otherwise you end up with the problems that I experienced.
When I look back at my life - I found that I was giving generously to other people - but not expecting much or anything back in return. This is the worst thing you can possibly do! Learn to expect something back in return. If you have to remind someone to give some time back too often - or even demand it - then they are ignorant and selfish - so DUMP them and move on. That's what I have decided to do with those people that were doing that to me - some of those people in my case are / were family members.
One further complication that you will find (as I am doing) is learning to "de-cipher" the true value of the negative feedback that you now get from some of these people. You see, now that your time has much less value in the eyes of those other people - they will be much more negative toward you when you say NO to them - in fact as I learn to say NO to people more often as part of my CBT - they can even get quite nasty in some cases because they've gotten so used to using and abusing my generosity of time. But what you have to learn to do is - in the same way that THEY have de-valued YOUR time in their own eyes, you have to learn to de-value their negative feedback in return. I have found that in some cases, so much damage to my "time value" has been caused that it's just easier to DUMP these people out of your life completely. Sad but true. But I have decided that there's no room in my life for selfish and ignorant people. I am learning to expect time back in return.
I suppose the best way to sum this up is:
"Extend the hand of friendship. If you get a hand back in return then all's well and good. If not then f**k 'em and move on".